Photo courtesy of: Paul Mannix.
Honey Island Swamp is about 30km long and 10km wide and lies about 25 miles to the north east of New Orleans in eastern Louisiana. Despite it's close vicinity to a large urban area, the lack of roads make it relatively isolated and it is home to thriving populations of local wildlife. And perhaps to something more unusual...
In August 1963 retired air traffic controller Harlan Ford and a friend, Ray Mills, saw a huge creature in the swamp which quickly ran away leaving large prints in the ground which quickly washed away. In 1974 they again encountered something in the swamp. Whilst hunting they claim to have found more prints near a dead boar which had had it's throat ripped out. They described the creature as being covered in dirty grey hair, with clawed hands and that it had widely parted yellow eyes. It was about 7 foot (2.2 metres) tall and 400 pounds (180kg) and stunk.
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It may be that the creature was known of long before this first documented encounter. According to many sources, though none that I've found so far offer any proof of this, a creature known as a "Letiche" was described as "a carnivorous, aquatic-humanoid" that lived in the area by local indigenous tribes. They believed it to be a feral child raised by alligators. The local Cajuns supposedly knew it as "Loup Carou". It is now know by the far more easy to pronounce name of the Honey Island Swamp Monster.
Swamp Monster Footprint Cast
A local legend believes that in the 19th century there was a train crash nearby in which a circus was being transported. Some chimpanzees escaped and bred with the local alligator population to create this strange creature. Although this is probably the least likely theory I've ever heard, sightings do tend to point out the strange reptilian and mammalian features of the monster.
There have been other sightings by others too. From this site we get the following (video and more available there):
Ted Williams lived on the bayou most of his life. He was a trapper and worked on the swampland every day. Ted claimed to have seen the creature many times, and he knew there was more than just one of them. He said, "I could have killed them, but I didn't cause they didn't seem to want to harm me. I'd see them swimming the river and get out on the bank then dissappear in the swamp." One day while fishing one crossed the river and walked right past him. One day Ted took his boat deep in the swamp to set trout lines. He was never seen again. No one has ever found him or his boat.
Harlan Ford's granddaughter is continuing the family monster hunting tradition and has made a DVD (see below for link to DVD). Here's a video promoting it with some more eyewitness accounts
Whist the description makes it sound very much like a bigfoot (or skunk ape) as you can see from the picture of the footprint above it is not five toed creature. Either it's a different species, an isolated interbred population of bigfoot (hence disfigurement) or completely made up (which is as usual my default position!). But whatever the case it continues the tradition of American aquatic monsters... which is always good!
Here's a good skeptical account of the swamp monster.
Mothman and Other Curious Encounters - Loren Coleman (UK Amazon, US Amazon)
Monster Spotters Guide to North America - Scott Francis and Ben Patrick (UK Amazon, US Amazon)
The Legend Of The Honey Island Swamp Monster (DVD) (UK Amazon, US Amazon)
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